A little over five years ago, photographer Chad Blakley and his wife moved to Abisko to take on seasonal summer jobs, but quickly fell in love with the breath-taking landscape and warm people of Swedish Lapland.

– My interest in photography began at a young age. When I was a teenager, I worked for the local newspaper in a small town outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. During my college years, I started a small business photographing weddings and students preparing for graduation. Though I truly enjoyed the technical aspects of photography, I soon grew tired of the repetitive scenes. I put down my camera and thought that my days behind a lens were finished, tells Chad Blakley.

– Nearly ten years after losing interest in photography, something incredible happened – I married a beautiful Swedish woman. I quit a well-paying job in the US and moved to a small town in the far north of Sweden called Abisko, he remembers.

Chad makes a living by offering Aurora photo tours.

One season in Abisko

Their intention was to live in Abisko for one season and then to move on. At the time Abisko was still an undiscovered town that was very busy in the summer and relatively quiet in the winter. Since Chad didn’t speak a word Swedish, the only job he got was in the cleaning department at the STF Abisko Turiststation.

– I gladly accepted this opportunity and spent my days cleaning – in the afternoon I was free to explore the surroundings in Abisko National Park. As I slowly discovered all of the beauty in the area I developed a love for the Park and a curiosity to experience it in wintertime, says Chad.

Chad loves being outdoors in his spare time, exploring the surroundings in Abisko.

Returning to Abisko

After travelling during the fall they returned to Abisko for the winter. Chad was excited about his new job which meant he could ski all day and look at the crystal clears skies above Abisko in the evenings.­

– One evening after work I was walking home when I noticed some sort of strange green glow in the northern part of the sky. At the time Abisko had not yet become known as an aurora watchers paradise so I did not immediately recognise what I was looking at. After a few minutes passed the green glow developed into a powerful aurora that filled the entire sky and then it hit me – I was witnessing my first Aurora Borealis!

Abisko has one of the best conditions in the world to experience the northern lights.

Change

From that moment he realised that something inside of him had changed. He had instantly become addicted to the northern lights and he felt he had to learn how to photograph the phenomenon and be able to share it with the rest of the world.

– That night as I lay in bed my mind was so focused on what I’d experienced that I couldn’t sleep. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to see more of this amazing wonder. I was full of desire to capture the lights with a camera but I was faced with a serious problem: I didn’t have a digital camera and neither the salary to pay for one.

Chad and the love of his life.

Chad and his wife own Lights over Lapland, a company that offers a full range of photo adventures including five-day all-inclusive Aurora Photo Expeditions, nightly aurora photo trips with all camera gear provided and virtually any customizable Aurora holiday that you can imagine. Find out more by visiting lightsoverlapland.com.

He decided to take on a second job in order to purchase a small camera that would allow him to start taking pictures of the lights. A family friend came to the rescue by offering him a job at a small mustard company.

– I worked for approximately two weeks as a jar filler to earn enough money to buy the cheapest Nikon DSLR available at the time. The rest is history, finishes Chad.

Since that cold, dark night, Chad has spent thousands of hours outside photographing the star and aurora-filled skies above Abisko National Park.

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